Improving Local Government Communication with Citizens Through Social Media

Improving Local Government Communication with Citizens Through Social Media

June 23, 2019

Access to the internet has created connections and opportunities for local governments to communicate with the public that previously have not existed. New technologies and the internet have impacted the way public administration operates enabling greater efficiency in delivery of information and services to citizens and businesses and importantly, creating opportunities for more transparency and accountability in public administration. With the development of social media, a new means of communication with citizens and business has emerged and local governments are often slow to grasp the opportunities that the newer communication platforms provide. In Serbia, according to the data of Republic Statistical Office for 2018[1], 75.8% of residents use the internet, 72.9% of households have access to the internet, and more than 1.5 million residents use e-Government services.

Seven local governments became signatories to Memoranda of Cooperation with USAID in 2018 to partner with the Government Accountability Initiative (GAI) in a variety of governance reform areas to increase transparency and accountability. As a part of the initiative, GAI organized a two-day hands-on workshop on June 18-19, 2018, in Belgrade for the local governments to enhance their use of social media to communicate with the public.

The workshop was developed especially for local government representatives responsible for public relations management, communication with the public, and social media management. Officials from mayors’ cabinets, local economic development and youth offices, and local administration units participated in the training. The workshop agenda focused on areas pre-identified by participants as opportunities for growth such as: communication strategy development, knowing your target audience, creation of a social media campaign, crisis communications, and use of social media metrics to improve communication.

Government Accountability Initiative (GAI) also has provided local governments training on how to improve their websites. GAI is currently supporting the city of Vranje to develop a new website and a public finance tracking portal to improve public access to local administration information and enhance public monitoring of expenditure of public funds.

[1] The Report on the Use of ICT in Serbia for 2018

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